The impact of the financial crisis that began on Wall Street is still being felt around the world. Students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business are drawing lessons from this pivotal time in world economic history both in and out of the classroom with a series of speakers that has produced six podcasts now available free.
Last spring, MBA students voted to tap the expertise of star academics and practitioners at Stanford, the Hoover Institution, and beyond and report back to their peers via a series of podcast interviews and lectures that offer laser-like analysis of what went wrong, how business will be forever changed, and how such shocks may be prevented in future.
The resulting audio podcasts are available through Social Innovations Conversations. “Much of the dialogue focuses on how the developing world, in particular, has been affected and how the global economic landscape is changing,” says Joy Sun, a member of the MBA Class of 2010 student team responsible for the project. The theme was a particular personal interest to the group, which included MBA students Lisa Scheible, Alex Maasry, and Katherine Helm, whose studies have embraced economic policy and development. “It’s really a crisis of global proportions and long-term consequences, despite the U.S. media’s tendency to focus on the domestic and short-term,” says Sun.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute and professor at Columbia University, for example, shares his views on the effect of the economic slowdown on the poorest of the poor, the 1.4 billion people who survive on less than $1.25 per day. Nobel economics laureate and business school Dean Emeritus Michael Spence discusses what the Commission on Growth and Development has learned about how developing nations that have been able to advance economically over the past several decades are weathering the crisis. James Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank, describes how the crisis has affected progress to promote economic development, and how previous thinking about development should now change.
Focusing the lens on the United States’ role in the crisis, Stanford GSB professor Ed Lazear ––who was chief economic advisor to President George W. Bush at the height of the crisis––shares his unique perspective on the key drivers of the economic turmoil, the impact of government deregulation in the years preceding it, and the most critical regulatory and policy changes that the Obama administration should consider to address the systemic risk posed by institutions deemed “too big to fail.” Stanford economics professor John Taylor, who has been a vocal critic of the bailouts of financial institutions, analyzes the decisions the government made in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, and discusses the importance of an independent Federal Reserve for monetary policy moving forward.
Closer to home, Dean Garth Saloner of the Stanford Graduate School of Business talks about the school’s comprehensive curriculum reform in 2007, initiated one year before the onset of the crisis, and its continuing efforts to search for ways to equip students with the skills, ethical grounding, and global perspective needed to succeed as managers and leaders in the post-crisis world.
The podcasts were recorded as part of the 2009–2010 Public Management Initiative (PMI) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Hosted by the Center for Social Innovation’s Public Management Program, the PMI is a year-long, student-driven, academic project focused on a specific social, environmental, or public issue. The theme for 2010, “Debating Tomorrow: The Changing World of Business,” will give way to another student project focusing on “Demystifying D.C.: Is America Ungovernable?” in 2010–11. Past projects have culminated in the design of a new course, the publication of a climate change primer, and the conversion of the GSB’s catering service into an eco-friendly enterprise.
“Conducting these interviews gave us the opportunity to dig deeply and engage in high-level conversations with experts,” says Joy Sun. “The PMI is a great way for students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the issues they choose to study, and engage their classmates in that process.”
- Marguerite Rigoglioso
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